Why a Healthy Vegetarian Diet Makes Sense
We all know that a healthy vegetarian diet is important for our physical and spiritual well-being. Here are some of the hard facts showing what a vegetarian lifestyle not only means to your body, but also to the environment. About two percent of the population follows a vegetarian diet but everyday more people stop to eating red meat, and become more conscious about their food choices. All of the worlds religions give us advise in different degrees about our diets. Buddhism admonishes “a no meat at all” rule, while “the words of wisdom” in modern Mormonism advise eating meat sparingly.
Aside from ethical considerations what are the reasons for a vegetarian diet. Hundreds of studies show that vegetarians who eat balanced diets have lower rates of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer. Medical expenses for food borne illnesses resulting from the consumption of meat reach around $30-$50 billion per year in the USA alone. A healthy vegetarian diet is directly connected to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and better weight management. According to Cornell University, it is better to eat less meat than to supplement your diet with calcium to reduce osteoporosis. A study of the Seventh Day Adventists (a vegetarian religious group) found that they had only 50 percent of the rate of high blood pressure, diabetes, and colon cancer of the general population, as well as only two-thirds the rate of prostate cancer and arthritis compared to other groups. The World Cancer Research Fund recommended in 1997 a vegetarian diet to reduce the risk of cancer. Lifelong vegetarians have 25% less cancer than the rest of us. Here is the good news: You don’t have to be completely vegetarian to have health benefits! The mortality rate from heart disease is 20% lower in people who eat meat just once a week. Just reducing meat in your diet has a great impact on your body, lowering your risk of illness many times over.
It is so easy to start a healthy vegetarian diet! The more you reduce the consumption of animal products the greater the benefit. If you only eat fish, your rate of heart disease is reduced by 34%. The over-all rate of deaths from cancer in the USA is 19%, but only 7% of the vegans studied died of lung, stomach, or colorectal cancer.
What about the environment?
What about the environment? A vegetarian diet saves 1.5 tons of greenhouse gas a year per person. A vegan diet actually reduces more carbon dioxide emissions than driving a hybrid car. It takes ten times the fossil fuel to produce one calorie of animal protein than producing one calorie of plant protein! Every year, meat eaters contribute to the cattle farming industry. This industry uses farm lands that could be producing human food but instead it is growing grain for cows. As most people know, cows produce large amounts of environmentally toxic methane gas. Raising cows also uses precious water resources. What’s more disturbing is that every hamburger that originated from a rain forest cow, required the destruction of roughly 55 square feet of rain forest. Furthermore, studies show that one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water. The water used to produce one hamburger patty is enough for two-week’s worth of daily showers.